World newspapers take stock of US withdrawal from Paris Accord
Morning Brief: European newspapers were particularly critical of the president’s decision to withdraw the US from the climate agreement, but the world’s attention is often fleeting, and most often concerned with local events
The past few weeks there has been a sort of rhythm to the news day, with the crescendo occurring around 5pm ET when the Times or Post, or both, drop their latest big story. Yesterday, the president decided to preempt news organizations with his own bombshell. Though it was actually anticipated — and, in fact, he had promised it during the campaign — still, President Trump’s decision withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change was still a shock. A little boy may promise to put his hand into the bees nest, everyone may laugh at the idea of it, but to actually do it is both shocking and incredibly stupid.
I actually don’t think Trump’s decision on climate was the biggest story yesterday. I’d wager that Putin’s admission that the Russians were, indeed, the people behind the DNC hack (he said it was not the government but “patriotic” individuals — but no matter, it was the Russians, the Russian president said so).
Still, you can’t fight city hall, and you can’t fight news editors who make these news decision. Further, you can’t dissuade them from continuing to run stories about Ivanka Trump and her supposed influence on the president, though there is zero evidence of any influence, or even that she has two peas worth of brains inside her head.
Most people like to believe that where they live, or where they grew up, is the best place on earth. It was difficult, growing up in Detroit, to think that my city was the best in the world. But I was still a strong defender of the city, even if I dreamed of far off places.
But I was sure, growing up, that the United States was the greatest nation on the planet. Had we not defeated fascism, put a man on the moon, and invented both jazz and rock and roll? Sure we had issues, Vietnam being one of them. And, oh yeah, we were not the best example of civil rights. But still, we’re #1 and all that.
You can’t feel that way now. We’ve elected a buffoon, one that is the laughing stock of the world, and we’re letting him destroy our reputation, our ideals, and even our facade of superiority — at least for most of us. And still we are letting it all happen. It’s not like the rest of the world isn’t noticing, either.
Still, we will move on quickly from this, as will others. The front page of the Edmonton Sun is about the city winning the right to host the Grey Cup (you know what that is, right?), many other major newspapers around the world are leading with local news — UK papers are focussing on the upcoming election and the polls which show a closer than anticipated race. Next week we will be talking about the Comey testimony, and soon many of us will be thinking about vacation (TNM will shutdown for a week and a half at the end of June, by the way).
But for today, it is good to realize that something important has happened, the US has stopped being the most important nation on earth. It probably never was, and shouldn’t have been. But it certainly is diminished, if not in the eyes of Trump supporters, than in the eyes of the rest of the world.
The announcement, so much feared, had aroused, even before its deflagration, a deluge of reactions in the world. For this thunderclap, of course, will make even more difficult the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions fixed in Paris, already timid and incomplete in view of the perils involved.
“Disaster,” “suicidal,” have suggested the entourage of heads of state or governments, who had nevertheless increased the pressure and warnings against such a devastating choice for the planet and the world’s first economy. “Ignorance,” “irresponsibility,” have up to the end reminded scientists as environmental protection NGOs, who are indignant at this decision that is hurting more than two decades of difficult negotiations.
The exit of the deal is a victory for the fiercest lobby for the fossil industry. And for the alt-right nationalist Steve Bannon, trump strategy advisor, as for Scott Pruitt, director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) already decimated by unprecedented cuts. Both climate change deniers. They have multiplied the dealings so that the supporters of an exit can have the ear of the President.
We all share the same responsibility: make our planet great again. pic.twitter.com/IIWmLEtmxj
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) June 1, 2017
Let’s look at the consequences soberly.
Firstly, the fight against global warming will not end, just because America is going out of the game for a few years. Of course, efforts will be needed to convince poorer countries that the fulfillment of the treaty makes sense without the US. But it is unmistakable that climate protection is nowadays an opportunity in many places, no longer as a restriction. And when an important player is eliminated, this can also increase the ambition of the rest…
…Second, America will have the consequences felt, partly automatically, partly through our efforts. Trump, the allegedly so great dealmaker, has brought himself into a devastating position with his childish denunciation of the agreement.
The “American century” ended with Donald Trump. Have passed, in a powerfully symbolic coincidence, a hundred years from 6 April 1917, the day when the United States were dragged, very recalcitrant, in that “useless slaughter” that was the First World War…
…Who and what – if any single nation or a concert of nations less jarring of the European Union – will go up on the throne left vacant by the ‘superpalazzzinario’ of Queens, however, if the American century would be ended in the emergence of other powers unimaginable just a few decades ago, as China or India. But we know something: there would be no Republic Day on June 2 in Italy, where in 1943, as in 1917, American troops and their allies, had not landed in Sicily to demolish the monarchy and fascism.
The response follows months of letters and outreach to Mr Trump from companies in industries as diverse as manufacturing, technology and energy to remain part of the 195-nation accord, making arguments that went well beyond sustainability, good corporate citizenship or the need for American leadership.
While Mr Trump’s explanation for exiting the accord was, in part, that it would hurt domestic manufacturing and cost US jobs, appeals by chief executives to the President have been largely business-focused, saying rather that an exit threatens American competitiveness, raises the risk of negative trade implications and could hurt their ability to create jobs.
But if withdrawing from the agreement will not make Mr. Trump’s domestic policies any worse than they are, it is still a terrible decision that could have enormous consequences globally. In huge neon letters, it sends a clear message that this president knows nothing or cares little about the science underlying the stark warnings of environmental disruption. That he knows or cares little about the problems that disruption could bring, especially in poor countries. That he is unmindful that America, historically the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, has a special obligation to help the rest of the world address these issues. That he is oblivious to the further damage this will cause to his already tattered relationship with the European allies. That his malfeasance might now prompt other countries that signed the accord to withdraw from the agreement, or rethink their emissions pledges.